It’s times like these I do wish this was my place. Look at it, buzzing with people chattering about that car shunt outside. I wish I’d thought of staging one before. Maybe we should have one weekly, that would send my takings up.
We’re in a prime position at the front of SupaValue, so shoppers will see us through the full glass windows as they roll their trolleys along to the door. Or if they come from the other direction, they will see us when they get inside. That was my idea, relocating here from the side aspect. The refit was due anyway and afterwards the takings were up 20%. I got a lovely thank you letter for that innovation. No pay rise but a lovely thank you.
Then I thought we could use some of the tricks of house-selling in the café. Our coffee is all machine-brewed, tastes good and strong but has none of that ground coffee aroma beloved by advertisers and estate agents. So I brought my old coffee percolator in from home when I upgraded it for one discounted in our Home & Wares aisles. Each morning I put on a pot of real coffee, just out of sight of the customers but within fragrant range. I placed a desk fan behind it and played the smell out into the café. Result? Takings up another 15%. No pay rise followed then either but I have been permitted to use one packet of SupaValue Coffee Grounds from the store every week, and charge it to the café’s budget.
I anticipate we’ll be up maybe 25% on a typical weekday after the crash. We had half a dozen people in when it happened and they all had a ringside seat for the action. I was clearing a table right opposite the car reversing so I could even see the looks on their faces, the whites of their eyes. Then as shoppers strained for a better view from inside the main store, I began welcoming them in.
“Come and join us, ladies and gents,” I said. “Buy a coffee and a cake or a late breakfast and sit a while. Enjoy the drama unfolding.” I’ve always had a theatrical bent, so my mother says anyway.
And they did. They came, they bought and they ogled. My staff could barely keep up with the orders and we had all the tables full. Strangers sat with each other and opinions were shared. Some second and even third cups were bought. New friendships were made and old friendships were strengthened.
So if this place was mine, say a franchise or a concession, I’d increase the range of smells we pumped into the café. Fresh coffee, baking bread, sticky jam, something garlicky and Italian. And my secret weapon would be fried onions, carefully timed to catch lunchtime shoppers and those popping in after a day at work who haven’t yet had an evening meal. They use fried onions to entice rooftop protesters down, so what chance would famished shoppers stand?
And I’d plan a daily drama, or at least one per week. It could be a car crunch or an old lady fallen onto the tarmac or maybe a young mum in labour outside the window. A child with skinned knees, play-acting of course. A cute, lost puppy dog. The possibilities are limitless.
But this place isn’t mine, will never be offered as a franchise opportunity and all the profit increases I make are ploughed back into shareholders’ pockets. All I get is an insincere thank you, probably in standard template format, and the chance to bring in old appliances from home.
Still, the experiences and skills I learn here will be useful when I eventually get somewhere of my own. I can experiment with no financial risk to myself. I’ll know what to employ and what to avoid to make my business profitable. Employ drama, evocative smells and personae dramatis. Avoid SupaValue Coffee Grounds.